In the morning everything is different and everything is good. Waking up in the rooftop tent deep in Lamoille Canyon, I keep my eyes shut as long as possible to let each sensation settle on my body, still warm under the heavy woolen blanket. From unzipped mesh windows cool air rushes over my arms and cheeks, bringing along with the chatting of small birds, their dawn discussions unchanged for an eternity. Nick is already below making me tea on the camp stove. And the night fear is gone.
The first night is always the worst. After that it mostly goes away as my internal rhythms slow to match the external rhythms of rock, water, tree. It was a slow extrication from the noise of our daily lives; each hour we drove further from the Bay Area, a buzz that had unwittingly taken up residence in my bones began to fade away. By the time we hit Reno my head felt more spacious, my organs and the space between them freed from their masters DO and FASTER and MORE. But not until I woke up on this first morning has its domination been truly snuffed out.
I had to survive the night first. It is very cozy up in the tent, extremities a little cold but nice and toasty under the covers, as long as I keep my big wool socks on. I read as long as possible, the headlamp’s light and the written word doing a decent job at keeping my thoughts at bay. After they are put out - fingers too frigid to hold the book any longer - the battle with my own mind begins. For starters, we agree that yes, we are squarely in the middle of nowhere without cell reception. We wonder then, what we would do if something happened, if say a blood clot let loose and I had a stroke. Or if my heart gave out. It would be one of those sad tales, oh well she could have been saved if she had gotten to the hospital sooner, but by the time they got her out of the tent and down the ladder and out of the canyon, it was just too late.
A very loud truck rumbles past. What kind of person is out driving on these back roads so late? No one is fishing or hiking or enjoying the view in this darkness. The only rational explanation, we agree again, is that they came out here to find some vulnerable campers to rob or rape or use for target practice. The truck passes and fades down the road. The mind shifts back to that tight muscle in my neck, which could very likely be a clogged artery, though we are unsure if those are in one’s neck. If that’s not the case it may be something else potentially tragic.
And so goes the mind for an hour, maybe two, while N breathes calmly and deeply beside me. Sleep evades me completely, caring not to get in bed with a mind that is so faultily wired yet wields so much power. But this a long game, and I eventually manage to take the upper hand. Any machine needs fuel, and like a tiny tired hummingbird it finally settles, slows, and then, shuts off. Sleep comes and envelops our top of the truck cocoon far up here in this glacier carved canyon beneath the Ruby Mountains of Nevada.
Morning birdsong marks my baptismal awakening, a body washed free of the night stories. Stillness settles on my bones. If it’s true that we are made up of 60% water, then it makes sense that the buzz I was feeling yesterday was my own internal ocean conducting the electricity put off all around us by devices, appliances and other humans. Overnight, despite the battle or perhaps because of it, my inland sea of organs and tissues regulated itself to the tunes of the sagebrush, aspen trees and granite.
I’ve been trying to avoid using the New-Ageism of “frequencies” in my descriptions of this feeling, but I can skirt around it no longer. My vocabulary has reached the limits of its scope and damnit if frequency just captures what I want to say perfectly. Among many reasons, I believe the truest explanation for why we go out here to the middle of nowhere to camp and why I put myself through the first night blues is for a change of frequency. Out here I don’t need my acupuncturist and chiropractor and massage therapist. Out here, starting on this first morning, I’m good.